2017 Young Adult Honouree
Kelly Graham enjoyed growing up in Aurora where she lived until graduating high school in June of 2015, when her family moved to Toronto. Now, during her school year Kelly lives in London while attending the University of Western Ontario.
One of Kelly’s favourite quotes comes from Minor Miles Jr., who said, “Go into the world and do well, but more importantly, go into the world and do good.” Often we focus on attending school and striving for high marks but, so far, Kelly’s key lessons have been learned through giving back. It’s important to aspire to be successful, but Kelly feels it’s just as essential to be an active community member.
In the spring of 2015, Kelly organized bone marrow drives at all thirty-one high schools in York Region. She was incredibly inspired by seven-year-old Sarah Watkin who sadly passed away from leukemia. Being able to honour Sarah and her family through the campaign was very gratifying. These drives led to over 2,800 names being added to the bone marrow registry, with every name representing a possible life being saved.
In grade ten, Kelly joined a group at her school called Peer Mentors, which focused on helping new students with the transition of entering high school; this was an opportunity with forty other like-minded students that Kelly was thrilled to experience.
Kelly believes that one of the most encouraging things about volunteering is how easy it is to do and actually make an impact. Other than knowing she was required to complete forty community service hours in order to graduate from high school, Kelly hadn’t given volunteering much thought initially. Joining Peer Mentors introduced her to countless occasions throughout high school, including last Halloween when Kelly and a group of Peer Mentors collected over 1,000 non-perishable food items for the local food pantry. A little effort goes a long way, and once you begin, Kelly is certain you will be inspired to carry on.
Throughout university Kelly plans to continue contributing her efforts to worthy causes, especially through organizing bone marrow drives. Her dream is to work for a global organization such as the United Nations or the World Health Organization, to pursue a career in humanitarian aid and help deal with global crises in health or security.
Kelly’s portrait was taken at Dr. G. W. Williams High School where her journey started. It stirs amazing memories of organizing Terry Fox Runs, being a part of a Me to We group, and more. Kelly is extremely grateful to have attended a school that so strongly encouraged community engagement and inspired her to be a leader.